Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Genesis Open - 2017

The PGA Tour boasts a stellar field this week as Riviera GC hosts the newly named, Genesis Open. Previously know as the Northern Trust Open and originally as The Los Angeles Open, the event was on Tiger Woods schedule until back spasms in Dubai forced his withdrawal. We will however, see 8 out of the TOP10 World Ranking players in attendance. "Hogan's Alley" as Riviera GC is affectionately known, will see Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia tee it up coming off wins last time out. Justin Thomas arrives having won twice is his last three starts. Past performances here suggest that players need to be inform to contend this week, and those with course experience should do better than others. Bubba Watson is a two time champion here with a further 4 TOP20s to his name, so clearly he likes the course. A case be made for many of the leading players and it will be hard to see an outsider prevail here given the form of the leading players right now. But we have seen "shock" winners here of late including James Hahn in 2015 and John Merrick back in 2013. Even Aaron Baddeley in 2011 was a triple figure price.

The Course

Riviera ranks as the 5th hardest course on the PGA Tour. A lot has been made of the grass type on the fairways here - kikuyu grass which is not widely seen on the Tour and is a grass type that suits South Africans and to some extent, Australians. Sangmoon Bae who finished TOP10 in 2015 remarked that the grass was to his liking as he was used to it in Japan & Korea. Those fairways can be uneven but they are narrow on a tree-lined setup and its crucial to find the right side of them to approach the greens. Small, hard to hold greens are a feature here and are considered lightening fast. On first glance the course seems to favour the bigger hitters and on recent result it does suggest that the bombers will contend but emphasis on accurate play is key too. Those with a sound short game this week will do well. It's a course that will test every department of the game and reiterates the requirement to be coming into the week with some form of which we have plenty to consider! Hogan's Alley is a ball strikers course and if the TV companies could somehow one day get down to showing some actual golf across the course we'd be treated to an exhibition this week. The 10th Hole is a clever hole, a real risk/reward hole that most players will drive or attempt to drive it. But can they hold it or better still give themselves a chance of a second shot should they miss too far left?

World Super 6 Perth - 2017

Karrinyup GC in Perth Australia hosts the inaugural "World Super 6 Perth" this week amidst a lot of eyebrow raising and a general dismissive public reaction. It's an innovative punt by The Europeantour to try and mix it up and why not? I for one am tired of the TV coverage offered by Sky Sports and this new format may just give us the viewer an opportunity to see more golfers and more golf! As with amateur golf, the idea of playing qualifying strokeplay before an event concludes with matchplay is not new. Playing over just 6 holes to create the excitement is and should it take off and be a success I can enviasge more of the top players coming on board. Its the "decider" played to the 18th green from a purpose built tee that may need tweaking but let's see how it unfolds this week. If luck is to play it's part it will happen on Sunday, the 24 qualifiers will have already played themselves into contention.

The Format

156 players will tee it up in threeballs on Thursday and play as normal for the first two days. All 156 players will as normal be looking to make the top65 cut and therefore play "the weekend". On Saturday these 65 & ties will continue to play as normal but try position themselves to sit within the top24 on the leaderboard at the conclusion of 54 holes. The TOP24 then will play on Sunday in a matchplay over 6 holes. Should we have more than 24 players at the Saturday conclusion, those players will playoff until the 24 are decided. The top8 receive a bye and so the remaining 16 enter the first round of matchplay. This first round of matches will leave 8 players to meet up with the top8 and 8 matches will head out to play another "Super 6" until we are left with a quarter-final lineup.If any match is tied after 6 holes then they playoff at the purpose built 18th. In theory the TOP8 players would need to win 4 matchplays whilst the other 16 would need to win 5 to take the title. It could be a winner for spectators and TV viewers and may also be an ideal trading event betting wise. 5 books as of Tuesday, 14th are offering 54 outright betting for those that prefer there run of the mill tournaments.Whatever the outcome it's different and the Europeantour need something new.....but playing it in Australia when most of the TV viewers in Europe will be sleeping and in the US, the PGA Tour will be live may not have been ideal. Asian reaction will be key to it's success.

The 6 holes will be as follows

1st Par 4 322yds 2nd Par 4 468yds 8th Par 3 220yds 11th Par 5 553yds 12th Par 3 148yds 18th Par 4 444yds

The Contenders

Its a very weak field for the inaugural event with Louis Oosthuizen & Alex Noren the class acts of the field. A decent start is required this week and there should be plenty of leaderboard watching from the players. I pity any player who leads by 6 after 54 holes this week.....it will be a bitter pill to swallow knowing he's back level with the field come Sunday as they all start anew. For me, Karrinyup will suit long straight hitters who can find the greens, and in matchplay, those getting in close first can put the pressure on. Do we side with players with strong GIR stats, those who can play in the wind or those that will put the pressure on the approach shots first? The new format gives everyone a chance here should they make it to Sunday but at only 24, I would tend to favour the likes of Noren & Oosty here to make it to Sunday. Their presence against the rest over 6 holes, makes them 1UP already in my book and Noren will have fond memories of the Paul Larwrie Matchplay last year where he made the final (albeit over 18). It could well be all buts and ifs this week so the staking plan is limited, after all we do have a mouth-watering affair in Los Angeles going on too.  From my shortlist though I'm gonna play Ben Evans and Ryan Fox as well as Gangajeet Bhullar to reach the quarter finals (top8 finish as opposed to the TOP8 qualifiers from strokeplay) @ 17.00

Staking Plan

0.25 pts win B.Evans @ 250.00
0.50 pts win R. Fox @ 36.00
1.00 pts TOP8 B.Evans @ 21.00
1.25 pts TOP8 R.Fox @ 6.00
1.00 pts TOP8 G.Bhullar @ 17